We Deserve Better: Tell Kraft To Stop Using Dangerous Artificial Colors in Our Mac & Cheese

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Hi there, this is Lisa Leake from 100DaysofRealFood.com and Vani Hari from FoodBabe.com. We recently discovered that several American food products contain harmful additives that are not used – and in some cases banned – in other countries. One of those products is an iconic staple that almost every American, us included, has had at one time or another: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

In the US, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese contains the artificial food dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. These unnecessary – yet potentially harmful - dyes are not in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in other countries, including the UK, because they were removed due to consumer outcry. Kraft reformulated their product for the UK, but not for their fellow American citizens, and it’s time we demand the same here in the US!
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We are petitioning Kraft to remove all artificial food dyes
from their line of macaroni and cheese products.

Kraft Yellow Food Dye Petition - 100 Days of Real Food

Kraft Foods is the largest food company headquartered here in the United States. If Kraft changes their Macaroni and Cheese formula, we know this could inspire other US food companies to follow suit and finally eliminate dangerous artificial food dyes once and for all.

Here are the reasons why Kraft needs to remove Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 from their entire line of Macaroni and Cheese:

Artificial food dyes…

To prove this last point we personally tested both the US and UK versions of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and found little difference in color and virtually no difference in taste (see for yourself in the video below).

So please…

  1. Go to our petition page and sign your name.
  2. Share our petition with your family and friends!
  3. Watch our video below to learn more about our mission (and see us taste test the two different mac & cheese products ourselves).

We both grew up eating this product – I even used to feed it to my kids – and it’s available at almost every grocery store across the country. Our kids deserve the same safer version that our friends get overseas!

Join us and demand this change by signing this petition now.

Thank you for all your support – together we can make a difference.

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Now might be a good time to check out our homemade macaroni and cheese recipe!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!

220 comments to We Deserve Better: Tell Kraft To Stop Using Dangerous Artificial Colors in Our Mac & Cheese

  • In many places in the world, to include what we in the US consider 2nd and 3rd world nations the governments ban many products we have in our foods. The move to real food should be considered natural like breastfeeding, not a fad or a movement. I hope we can change our social culture in the US, and people like you are helping parents to make informed decisions.
    Demetria
    Author of Herbal Healing for Children

  • Leanne Pressly

    Hi Lisa, LOVE your blog and read every post! Would love to see you do a post on the most common foods using these food dyes? I’m always shocked at what you uncover and appreciate all the time and effort you put into keeping my family safe. Thank you. PS gave our teacher the info about sweets in the classroom!

  • Samantha

    I don’t see a change happening any time soon. The way I see it is, our parents grew up eating the same food that we did–technically, the food was ‘worse’ back then. And they came out just fine. It’s more so the lifestyle of today’s generation than anything else. Parents today are so paranoid of stuff that parents back then didn’t consider as much as they do now. People have always known that the more convinent the food was, the more processed the food was. And yet people still eat it. And as long as there’s still a demand for that, then nothing will change. I just try to follow the 80/20 rule and use common sense and my own knowledge as to what’s ‘healthy’ and what’s not.

      • Samantha

        Why don’t you just ban everything else then that people eat? Because food dyes are in just about everything we consumer. I’m not signing the petition. I think all you crazy health parents are just that, crazy. You do way too much research. As I said, our parent’s parents never had this kind of information back then and everyone grew up fine.My parents ate Kraft Mac n Cheese, fast food, and all the other ‘bad’ food you claim. They are now full grown adults and are perfectly fine and perfectly healthy. Parent’s today are out of control about reading into everything they can. Just eat the food, exercise, and live life. Let your kid just be a kid.

        And you may be asking why I’m posting if I disagree,well, it’s just for that reason. I’m disagreeing. I have rights and freedoms as well as you people do about your ‘real food’, so I’m choosing to say why I think today’s parenting is worse off than previous generations.

        • Tiffany G

          I used to feel the same way. I thought everyone was fine. People have been eating this way for decades now and everyone I knew were healthy. I thought my mom was crazy for changing her eating habits to organic and real food. If she would tell me about it I didn’t want to hear it. And then my mother in law who has been healthy all of her life was diagnosed with cancer. We were devastated. Watching what that horrible disease did to her in just a few months and losing her to it was more than we could take. I started reading about the type of cancer she had and found out that it was more than likely caused by her diet infuriated me. Suddenly eating that way didn’t sound so crazy anymore. If I can possibly prevent my husband or my children from going through what my mother in law had to go through I will do whatever it takes. I have been eliminating processed foods for a year now and I have never regretted that decision.

        • Autumn

          Samantha,
          I think you are quite mistaken. I know for a fact my parents did not grow up eating this way. I would say that’s true for the majority of our parents and especially prior generations as there were not as many processed choices out there. I don’t even think there were as many processed choices out there when I was younger and it saddens me to think that you are being such a critic for no real reason. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, but no one is forcing you to agree or even read this blog. I truly feel sorry for you. I am very thankful for Lisa and her team, it helps inspire me to feed my family in a more wholesome way instead of accepting that it has to be this way. I can’t always buy organic, and right now we live in an apartment so gardening is mostly out of the question. I love reading about new resources and hearing how she does it. I am sorry that you can’t see the value in people wanting to do better for their families.

  • jennifer

    You might want to rethink using the UK as your comparison. A study was just released saying their health as a nation is in sharp decline. They might not use dye in their Kraft, but the people run quite a high risk for a variety of diseases.

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-03-reveals-uk-declining-health-high.html

    Every country has it’s downside nutritionally speaking. No country is perfect and never will be. Only in America, where the vast majority of our citizens have access to a hot meal every day, do we complain about the ingredients in everything. I understand your quest and personally think it’s great, but so often I read this blog and can’t help but think, gosh we’re a bunch of pampered a-holes.

  • Gerald D. Wootan D.O., M.Ed.

    I commend your efforts. Acturall most of the food dyes are made from coal tar. Goldfish are toxic. If you think food dyes are toxic you should research aspertame (nutrisweet).

  • TornadoGirl

    Kraft Mac and Cheese isn’t anywhere close to being “real food” whether it has artificial colors/preservatives or not.

    • Yes of course it isn’t “real food.” But a lot of people eat it (we starting making our own mac and cheese years ago) and we hope if changes are made with popular products and brands that others will follow. Change doesn’t come quick…baby steps.

      • Stephanie

        Good luck with your efforts. Sadly, I don’t think most people know or care that they are ingesting poison every single day.

        • Alex

          No, most people are not aware of the poison they eat.

          That’s why it appears as if Kraft has sent some corporate trolls to this site to knock this effort. The irrational and over the top rage is a red flag (or maybe a by-product of chemical additives!)

          Heaven forbid, the general public gets educated about the poison in food and companies like Kraft have to raise their standard.

          The yellow dye is a good and long overdue beginning, and there are many more needless chemicals including the ubiquitous and misleading “natural flavors.”

  • [...] We Deserve Better: Tell Kraft To Stop Using Dangerous Artificial Colors in Our Mac & Cheese – 10… Thought some people around here might find this humorous or something…the idea that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is real food no matter how you tweak it! High-tech tomatoes. Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us? ~Annita Manning Reply With Quote [...]

  • Robyn

    While I’m definitely concerned about the dyes, etc I’m also concerned about the fact Kraft is owned by Pepsi who has teamed up with Senomyx. The president has just approved senomyx’s continued use of using ABORTED FETAL CELLS to product enhancements. This alone should be another reason to NEVER buy processed foods.

  • Greg

    All for getting rid of artificial dies in foods. Have a daughter that is allergic to red 40 and it is amazing what food products have it in it.

    Congrads on taking this story national.

  • Love this idea you and food babe had to take the protest to a national scale!

  • Chris

    I read a piece this morning on Yahoo about removing the coloring from Kraft Mac and Cheese. Is nothing sacred anymore? Please leave the M&C alone, Im sure it had brought you nothing but happiness and memories through the years.

    Maybe try picking up a hobby? Golf Perhaps?

    • Samantha

      I totally agree with you Chris. At this rate, why don’t they just ‘ban’ everything? Let the people decided what they want to consume, not let someone else do it for them. And for all those people who signed the petition because other people ‘don’t know better or can’t afford it’, that’s just making a choice for them. I think a lot of today’s generation and parenting is totally screwed up.

  • NBfromOhio

    I’ve been a label reader for years. In our household, I try to purchase items without artificial colors. I also try to eliminate dyes, MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup and even a natural coloring. Through our own testing by eliminating foods with ingredients, I discovered how much harm these ingredients can do, especially in children. Be aware! Even the Blue 1 in toothpaste and the lovely artificial colors in kid’s vitamins can cause problems. It did with our children. There does not have to be a highly, sophisticated, costly, lengthy testing and studies, to tell me that these ingredients are harmful to everyone. Through the process of elimination did we discover the harmful effects.

    I’ve said to many over the years that the FDA is controlled by big business. Isn’t it nice that we have so many drugs to try to tackle health problems that could have been caused by what we ingest? The big pharm companies are in bed with the Feds as well. Big business is focused on $$$, profits first!!! The petition on Kraft is great, but the buck speaks. For all of you opposed to certain ingredients in your food, change what you do now. DON’T BUY PRODUCTS WITH THOSE INGREDIENTS! See how fast Companies will change their practices when their profits decline. There is freedom of choice. Use it! There is power in numbers. Unite!

    Seriously, studies have shown that we are not a healthy nation. The mortality rate is increasing and for the first time, this aging generation (The Boomers”) health is worse than the prior generation. Obesity, diabetes, ADHD… What do we want for ourselves, our children and for future generations?.

    We deserve better! You have the ability to control your actions in what you purchase and what you and your children eat. Don’t just wait… I didn’t. Do what you can now! You can make a difference!

  • Daniel J. McNelly

    OMG – Will we ever be free of busy bodies and do gooders?

  • Hannah

    I have an even better solution for you than petitioning to change the coloring ingredients of mac and cheese, stop feeding it to your children! Its not healthy and that has very little to do with the color additives. Any sort of boxed macaroni and cheese will, without a doubt, kill you from obesity complications before cancer. Want to be a role model to your children? Give them healthier, homemade food and teach them to actually cook.

    • Hannah – We stopped eating boxed mac and cheese in 2010 when we gave up processed food. We now make our own…check out the recipe here http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/12/31/recipe-whole-wheat-macaroni-and-cheese/.

      • Hannah

        OK, congratulations, you’ve solved the color additives dilema and not the fact that mac and cheese is not healthy!
        My point above it that this blog seems to be so concerned with food additives and “toxins”, which have never scientifically been proven harmful, that it forgets about the general health content of food. Despite the popular belief, substituting in whole wheat pasta does not make this recipe any healthier. This recipe still has the same fat and calorie content as before. If you want pasta, eat it with tomato sauce or pesto or a light butter/lemon sauce. In the long run, the complications from obesity will hit you harder and faster than any sort of food additives/preservatives in processed food.

  • Dawn

    If you are so concerned about your children’s health, here’s an idea, stop buying it and make your own mac n cheese or anything else you continue to complain about from scratch. As a single mother, I get so embarassed when other “women” complain about how difficult it is to raise kids and the choices that are out there. Maybe you should have thought about that before you had them. And regarding obesity maybe instead of buying your children computers and video games and any other electronic device and cell phones, maybe you shouldn’t buy this stuff and show your kids there are other things to do except be on computers and electronic devices all day. Maybe they should learn how to grow gardens and recycle items instead of buying new. I also was able to work full time and cook home cooked meals on a daily basis, going out to eat was considered a treat. Usually after her basketball and softball games on the weekends. Quit complaining about things that YOU CHOOSE TO BUY AND ALLOW IN YOUR HOMES.

    • JMSH

      Wow, what a terribly misplaced rant! Do you not read this blog? The writers do not purchase Kraft Mac and Cheese and have made significant contributions to the “Real Food Revolution.” As I see it, petitions like these serve the greater purpose of challenging the actions of Big Food. Why should their US version contain questionable food dyes while their other versions do not?

      • Dawn

        LOL, let me guess you probably hate animal cruelty but own leather in some capacity…belt, shoes, purse, coat. Take responsibility for what you choose to put on and into your bodies. It’s as simple as that. IF you haven’t read a label until just now and you’re over 18 then the blame shouldn’t only be on the companies making these products. Oh and I have read this blog for quite a while. Doesn’t mean I agree with everything that is said. Plus I only choose to use internet 5 days a month so I don’t get to rant, oh I mean, voice my opinion as much as you guys do.

        • JSMH

          Huh? What does animal cruelty have to do with anything? I’m not sure who you are directing your arguments at, but from the original post it sounded like it was the blog writers and much of the content had absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand (tv? internet? growing gardens?). You are certainly entitled to your opinions, but I am also entitled to point out when they are completely irrelevant and provide nothing to the conversation, thus making them rants. Again, this is not about taking personal responsibility and blaming companies, this is about challenging their shady actions. Making two versions of the same product, one without questionable ingredients, borders on unethical, IMHO. You seem to like calling out other parents for not being as good of a parent as you are, so why shouldn’t other parents call out Kraft for being unethical and shady?

    • I absolutely agree with you that as parents, we ultimately control what goes in our childrens’ bodies. However, I’m with JMSH-this isn’t just about making individual choices, it is about changing the food culture in the US where parents who can’t make mac and cheese from scratch or can’t afford to buy organic every day have the same options when it comes to nutrition with our children! We as parents need to be prepared to push the corporations to do right by our children whether that is with petitions, buying choices or raising our voices in a chorus to say enough is enough with the processed crap!

  • I wrote about my own journey giving up processed food earlier this week and today, I tripped upon your article on Yahoo. I signed your petition and I think we as parents have the power to change how our kids eat, even if that means changing corporate america. Rock on girls!

  • Steph

    I just started reading your blog a few days ago. It is overwhelming to realize how much I didn’t know or just didn’t pay attention to. I have three young children and I feed them this mac and cheese quite often. I knew it wasn’t a health food, but I guess I was very uneducated and maybe a little lazy. I am late to join this group, but I’m happy to be here. I want to thank you for helping me understand all of this! I am excited to start making some changes.
    On a side note, I am SHOCKED that there are people out there who read your blog just to add their own negative comments. Don’t they have anything better to do with their time? If they feel so strongly, why don’t they get their own blogs?

  • Christine

    @SAMANTHA

    Why don’t we ban everything? hmm why do we NEED the dye? what purpose does it serve?
    It doesn’t alter the flavor to take it out so why do you care if its in there?
    Also.. the we ate all of that and we were fine is an old and tired argument.
    We also didn’t sit our kid in front of vid games or fb all day but the parents today do.
    Parents back then also use to do a lot of things we no longer do (for the better).
    If you dont like it..dont sign. I am not signing not because of the food dye but because I think with or without the dye.. its a bad food.
    Why not just make your own? Its truly not that hard.. why not give your children real food?

    I find the UK argument to be a dead one as well so i do agree with some of your points but the argument of well our parents ate it and they are fine is actually not always accurate.

    I have learned when people go off like you do its because they feel attacked because they use those things.
    IF IT DOESN’T EFFECT THE FLAVOR THAN WHY DO YOU CARE IF THE DYE IS IN IT..
    This country is being duped by companies.. I hate being a sucker and they are making us suckers by what they put in our food.
    They also used pesticides all over the food but we now know its best if we don’t use it.
    They have approved fake sugar yet back in the day..people were getting stomach cancer from TAB.
    If you think that everything was mayberry back then, you are in a bubble!
    I don’t like being a sucker and to know they are shoving chemicals into us is just wrong.
    They aren’t telling them to ban mac and cheese but if they are removing the dye for other places, why not us?

  • Christine

    btw.. i also can’t afford 100% organic but i do my best. an apple over a bag of skittles is still best..even if its not organic.

  • Beth Starke

    This is the stupidest, most petty petition I have ever seen in my life and you should be ashamed for diverting resources that could be used to effect changes that actually matter. What are you, a teenage boy elbowing his friend to inform him that his mountain dew will shrink his testicles?

    Grow up. If you don’t like it don’t eat it.

    • Beth you are totally missing the big picture. There are many “bigger” things that would be great to accomplish, but the lobbying power of the food industry on our government is very powerful. This is a baby step to not only hopefully improve a very common product, but to hopefully open peoples eyes along the way and set an example for other companies to follow. And we don’t eat it.

  • Beth Starke

    #firstworldproblems

    Send our dye-tainted macaroni and cheese to some starving African children, I’m sure they wouldn’t complain about yellow 5.

  • Paul Petry

    Yellow #5 is also used in another favorite kid food: Vlasic dill pickles.
    For years, the natural spice tumeric has been used in pickles, which imparts a yellow color.
    Why they choose not to use tumeric and instead use Yellow #5 is a mystery to me.
    Add Vlasic pickles to your list.

  • Pete

    Why not simply make your kids mac n cheese not out of a box?

    • Great question. We do make our own (recipe is at the end of the post), and that is certainly the best choice. But we are trying to raise awareness and get people to start reading labels and thinking about what is in their food. Food manufacturers lobby the FDA heavily (which relies way too much on industry funded research) so they can formulate their products for maximum profit (within the confines of the regulations they help set up) and consumer demand (they are literally engineered to make you crave them…I know that sounds alarmist and over the top, but it’s true), but they will listen to the media and to consumers who vote with their dollars. It’s just a business decision on their end.

  • Broox

    If these dyes are such a well known health risk (and I’m not disputing that), why are you focusing on a petition with Kraft rather than on a petition to President Obama who claims to be so concerned about health & welfare of people? The President has a tremendous amount of influence over the priorities of the FDA which is responsible for collating the research data and setting the healthy boundaries for dyes and other chemical additives in food products. So, why not petition the President?

    • That would certainly be fabulous, but we were going for a hopefully attainable goal. The food industry’s lobbying power on our government is very, very strong. Baby steps.

      • Drew Silver

        Isn’t this one of these cases where it is being completely overblown? Stating these ingredients have been linked to cancer, etc. may be true, but it is never mentioned the amount you have to consume to have an issue. I’m guessing it is way more than the “less than 2%” that is contained in mac/cheese. Kind of like Organic being overrated, as I have read many times, the levels of pesticides consumed are extremely low in relation to what would be deemed harmful.

    • Critical Reader

      The problem is, that the health risks are not as well documented as this article makes you believe. For me as a parent, the current data is enough to not buy stuff with artificial dyes. But for the regulatory agencies, the data is not enough for a ban. After the British Southampton Study back in 2007 both the FDA and the EFSA (European equivalent to the FDA) reacted and re-evaluated some artificial dyes. Both came to the conclusion, that in the amounts allowed and used, this artificial dyes are safe. Unless some striking new data comes out, the agencies are not going to overrule their recent evaluations – no matter, how much political pressure is involved. The only way those dyes out of the food system is by asking the manufacturers to do so. But, a word of warning. If you chase out the artificial dyes, natural dyes will be used and nobody knows if they are any safer.

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